Superintendent Dr. Catherine Latham

Search for special ed administrator continues

By ADAM SWIFT

LYNN There will be a delay in bringing a new special education administrator to the schools.

Thursday night, the Lynn School Committee unanimously approved Superintendent Dr. Catherine Latham’s recommendation to repost the position.

“I feel strongly that we have not yet interviewed the candidate we need,” said Latham. “We need someone with district-level experience.”

Latham said six candidates were in the running for the position, with resumes reviewed, interviews conducted and references called.

However, she said none of the candidates had the kind of district-wide experience in a large school system that she feels is necessary to succeed in Lynn.

The school committee has final say on the position and could have gone ahead to appoint a candidate without a recommendation from the superintendent. But the board agreed to repost the position and have Latham present the qualifications she would like to see from candidates to the committee.

In addition to district-wide experience, Latham said she would like to see someone who has a strong curriculum background.

“I hope to have someone in place by July 1,” she said.

Lynn art students show off in Boston

The position will pay about $110,000, but could vary slightly based on experience and education, committee member Jared Nicholson said. He said the person hired would oversee all of the special education services in the Lynn Public Schools.

Prior to the Thursday meeting, members of the school committee unanimously put forward two names for the superintendent’s consideration, Ellen Kelleher-Rojas and Lesia Diego. John Ford, a school committee member, also submitted a third name, Jeffrey Lappin.

But on Thursday night, the members agreed that they should select someone who has Latham’s trust and recommendation.

“On the reposting, I would like to see who is out there,” said committee member Lorraine Gately.

Lynn Rotary Club plays defining role

ITEM PHOTO BY OWEN O’ROURKE
Coco Sunrez and Jessica Jewkes take a guess at Superintendent Catherine Latham’s question on how many third-graders there are in Lynn during the dictionary distribution.

By BRIDGET TURCOTTE

LYNN — More than 1,300 third-graders in the city were given new dictionaries Wednesday morning as part of Lynn Rotary Clubs Dictionary Project.

The students at Sewell-Anderson Elementary School immediately recognized the books’ value.

“I think it’s pretty cool,” said Jessica Jewkes, 8. “I do have problems writing at my house. It’s loud and my mom has to help me with a lot of words.”

Superintendent Dr. Catherine Latham assisted club members in the distribution at Sewell-Anderson, which was just one of 19 of the city’s public schools to benefit from the project.

She offered a brief lesson on how tamo search for a word, its part of speech and meaning. The back of each dictionary includes additional information, including a list of U.S presidents and states, and sign language and braille charts.

“We have many high school students who still have the dictionaries they got in the third grade,” Latham told the students.

Lynn council has new leaders for new year

“The children love these,” said Angela Maggs, a third grade teacher at the school. “We will use them as a tool in the classroom. There are a lot of fun things in the back they can learn about. They’ve already shown me there are multiplication tables.”

The Lynn Rotary Club has been participating in the project as part of an international program for more than a decade. Equitable Bank, an entity that formed when Equitable Cooperative Bank and Weymouth Bank merged in 2016, has been the financial sponsor of the project for six years.

President Don Smith said the bank spends about $3,000 each year on the dictionaries.

Rotarians present them to classrooms across the city at 9 a.m., said Rotary Club President Ray Bastarache, who chooses to distribute at Sewell-Anderson because he has a personal connection to the school.

“I was the principal of this school from 1991 to 2001,” Bastarache said. “I’ve been in this room many times.

“We always emphasize to the students that they own the book — we tell them they can bring them home,” he said. “It’s one of the only occasions in the public school (system) they are given their own book. We make the assumption everyone has access to technology at home, but not everybody does. They can’t all just do a Google search when they don’t know a word.”


Bridget Turcotte can be reached at bturcotte@itemlive.com. Follow her on Twitter @BridgetTurcotte.

Partnering to help homeless youth

By THOR JOURGENSEN

LYNN — Local school superintendents are turning to homelessness prevention advocates to help high school-age students who need to stabilize their lives after they graduate.

Lynn School Superintendent Dr. Catherine Latham and Saugus Superintendent David DeRuosi Jr. discussed the problems arising from the lack of realization among youth that they are actually homeless.

“Students think that because they have a place to stay tonight at a friend’s house that they aren’t homeless. They don’t consider couch surfing an issue or sign of homelessness and, therefore, don’t report,” Latham said.

Latham and DeRuosi outlined their concerns in a meeting last week with North Shore Housing Advocacy Group (NSHAG) members, including NSHAG co-chair and state Rep. Brendan Crighton.

“Hearing these accounts and these stories from the superintendents and the people on the front line in the agencies that deal with this issue are exactly what I need be effective at my job on Beacon Hill,” Crighton told the superintendents and about 40 NSHAG members.

DeRuosi said school officials have a very limited amount of time that they can identify and assist students affected by homelessness because school-based assistance is available only while the student is in school.

“Once they graduate, we have no way of assisting them,” DeRuosi said.

$1.5M partnership with Lynn Community Health

Linn Torto, executive director of the Interagency Council on Housing and Homelessness (ICHH), said agencies and communities can combine resources to do a better job helping homeless youth and adults. She said assistance must be tailored to the homeless individual or family.  

NSHAG administers the state’s funding for homelessness prevention in Essex County and has maintained its focus on assisting each city and town evenly. To date, NSHAG has assisted 33 individuals and families and 29 youth with funding related to housing prevention, startup costs or arrearages.  

North Shore Community Action Program Executive Director Laura McNeil said pooling resources to fight homelessness provides participating NSHAG agencies with “new resources and information about services that could help their clients.”

“Each agency brings something to the table that could assist a family or individual,” she said.

Anyone interested in learning more about programs or funding for homeless youth, individuals or young families offered by NSHAG are directed to contact Sara Johnson at LHAND’s Family Success Center at (339) 883-2342.


Thor Jourgensen can be reached at tjourgensen@itemlive.com.

‘Stories of resiliency begin with bad news’

ITEM PHOTO BY OWEN O’ROURKE
Jason Jimenez, a speaker at Stop the Violence Lynn, sits down in front of the podium while talking to the 6 and 7th graders in attendance. 

By ADAM SWIFT

LYNN — Resiliency.

It’s something 2009 Lynn English graduate Brian Castellanos knows a lot about, and on Wednesday, he was one of a handful of speakers who brought a message of resiliency to sixth- and seventh-graders at a Stop the Violence Lynn program held at City Hall.

“This is a room full of young people with hopes and dreams,” said Castellanos. “I was once in those shoes and I remember people talking to me at the middle school.”

From the outside, Castellanos is someone who has achieved those hopes and dreams, a successful high school and college football player who has earned bachelor’s and a master’s degree in criminal justice and is planning on earning his doctorate.

But as he told the middle schoolers during an emotional 15-minute talk, the road to his hopes and dreams has been anything but smooth.

“Stories of resiliency begin with bad news, tragedy and pain,” Castellanos said.

Castellanos grew up on Chatham Street as the youngest of 12 children in a poor family. Castellanos’ mother passed away when he was a young child. The family finances became desperate after another change in the family’s dynamics when he was a freshman in high school. His father was subsequently rarely home, having to work two jobs to support his children. Castellanos lived with his brother, Eddie, until Eddie died of lymphoma in Castellanos’ senior year.

“On August 25, 2008, I received a call from my father at 3 a.m. with a message that I will never forget,” said Castellanos. “I had to head to the hospital where my brother was staying to say my goodbyes … I was able to speak to him one last time and tell him that I love him.”

Castellanos said the moment his brother took his last breath will be forever ingrained in his soul.

“I’d never seen my father cry before,” he said. “This was the time my heart was introduced to true pain.”

Unfortunately for Castellanos, the death of his brother was not the end of his hardships. During his senior year, he spent time living in his car, showering at friends’ houses.

“My desire to never give up was born in that car,” he said.

For the senior, college seemed out of reach, but a school counselor encouraged him to apply. He attended Westfield State College for a year, making high grades, but a physical altercation with another student led to him being kicked out of the school.

A coach at Framingham State University was willing to give Castellanos another chance, and he made the most of it.

“I was able to rebuild my character and rebuild myself on and off the field,” he said. But like many experiences in life, Castellanos said the experience was short-lived.

“Let me tell you something,” he said. “Life is going to hit you in the mouth. It may be today, tomorrow, a week from now, a month from now. The key is to never give up.”

And Castellanos never gave up, even after a serious car accident his senior year of college left him with broken bones and a doctor who said he might never walk again. Three months later, he jogged back into that doctor’s office with a large smile on his face.

“My mission in life is to teach young people that despite what hardships you go through, anything is possible,” said Castellanos. “Just because it might look impossible, it doesn’t mean you can’t persevere through it. I’m an example of a person whose life was engineered for failure, but yet I found a way to survive. My biggest reward is to be able to share my life story with you today in hopes I reach one person. Never be discouraged, never hold back, and most importantly, never give up.”

Jason Jimenez (who got big cheers when Superintendent Dr. Catherine Latham mentioned he’s worked with A$AP Rocky and Whiz Khalifa) told the students about his four keys to success.

To achieve success, Jimenez encouraged the students to stay busy, hang out with people you want to be like when you grow up, be a mentor and to pick five things they want to be or achieve when they grow up.

Jimenez, who grew up near the Lynn Common, has dedicated his life to helping Lynn youth as a football coach at Lynn Classical and as tour director for the Music Motivates Me Tour.

“If you believe and work hard at something now, you can accomplish it,” Jimenez said.

Carolina Trujillo, Essex Media Group’s community relations director and director of La Voz, the North Shore’s new Spanish-language newspaper, spoke about moving to the Boston area from Colombia and struggling to find a job.

“I was a woman, a minority, an immigrant, English was my second language and I had a degree that was not from this country,” Trujillo said. “I felt like everything was against me.”

But instead of looking at the negatives, Trujillo was inspired (with some tough words of encouragement from her mother) to move forward and achieve her piece of the American dream.

“I can do whatever I want, because I am the architect of my own life, and I encourage you to do the same,” she said

The Stop the Violence Lynn Committee originally formed to give the city’s youth an alternative to violence. The group has also organized peace walks and a yearly speaker series that brought U.S Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz to Lynn.


Adam Swift can be reached at aswift@itemlive.com.

School suspension policy raises concerns in Lynn

ITEM FILE PHOTO
Superintendent Dr. Catherine Latham
 

By LEAH DEARBORN

LYNN — City schools are taking a closer look at how discipline is doled out.

At Thursday night’s school committee meeting, several members raised concerns about how the district’s suspension policy is applied.

Committee member Maria Carrasco asked whether Superintendent Dr. Catherine Latham could provide more information regarding the discipline code.

Carrasco specifically wanted to know more about suspension procedures related to the youngest students and those with behavioral problems. She also expressed a fear that the same students who are suspended regularly in grammar school are more likely to drop out in later grades.  

Deputy Superintendent Dr. Patrick Tutwiler said that suspension rates have been dropping across city schools and cited statistics submitted to the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.

According to Tutwiler, Lynn English High School had a 30 percent suspension rate three years ago; it is now 18 percent. Lynn Tech and Classical High School also both saw drops in suspension rates over the same period.

Tutwiler said he believes those drops have a lot to do with schools embracing the spirit of a recently passed law that relegates suspension to a last resort as a disciplinary measure.

“In my humble opinion, we’re headed in the right direction,” said Tutwiler.

Committee member Jared Nicholson agreed that the downward trend in suspensions points to movement in the right direction, but questioned why there was disparity in the numbers across schools if suspension policies were being implemented consistently.

Another issue discussed during the meeting was the lack of space for in-school suspension programs at some of the facilities, notably at English High School.

Carrasco and member John Ford Jr. both said students see out-of-school suspensions as a vacation and are less prone to take the punishment seriously.

“Kids shouldn’t be punished because we don’t have the space. We need to find it for those kids,” said committee Vice-Chair Patricia Capano.

Latham said she would work with school principals to carve out some space. She also said she would come up with a report on minority suspension data for the next meeting.

Question 2: 2 answers

Kathy Paul, with Mass. Senior Action, leaves the podium after speaking against Partners Healthcare during a rally at Union Hospital, after the company contributed $100,000 to expand charter schools. Participants at the rally oppose the ballot initiative to expand charter schools. (Item photo by Owen O’Rourke)

By Gayla Cawley

LYNN–Opponents of a ballot initiative to lift the state’s cap on charter schools argue that the schools are a drain on funding from traditional public education, while proponents say expansion will provide more opportunity for parents and their children.

When voters go to the polls on Nov. 8, their ballots will feature Question 2, which, if passed, will authorize up to 12 new charter schools or enrollment expansions in existing charter schools annually by the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education. Priority would be given to applicants who seek to open a charter school in public school districts performing in the bottom 25 percent. If it doesn’t pass, the existing charter school cap will be maintained.

A WBUR poll released last week, which surveyed likely Massachusetts voters, showed 52 percent oppose the ballot initiative, up from 48 percent last month. Support is at 41 percent, roughly the same as last month.

State Rep. and City Council President Daniel Cahill (D-Lynn) said charter schools are a drain on public schools. Last spring, the City Council unanimously approved a resolution opposing the lifting of the cap on charter schools, arguing that the city can’t afford it.

With the resolution, the council estimated that more than $17 million of Lynn’s budget for its public schools is being diverted to charters, and that public schools are losing more than $408 million to charter schools statewide.

Over the last three years in Lynn, Cahill said, more than 100 students have left charter schools to come back to traditional public schools.

“Charter schools will tell you that they have a 100 percent graduation rate and they have a 0 percent dropout rate,” Cahill said. “Well, isn’t that confusing? Isn’t that confusing when 100 plus kids leave? Well, of course you have those statistics and they’re lies. We’re left in the public schools to pick up the pieces for those students and educate them at a loss. All we’re asking for is a level playing field. That’s all we’re asking for and we’re not getting it, and until we get that, we can’t afford any more charter schools.”

But Caleb Dolan, executive director of KIPP Massachusetts, said KIPP Academy in Lynn, the city’s only charter school, has 1,000 students on its wait list, made up of families who have made the choice to attend the school and should have the ability to do so.

“There’s nobody who wouldn’t want more choice for their own child,” Dolan said. “I think it’s a pretty simple proposition for us that this helps give families the choices they want and deserve.”

Cahill joined others opposing the ballot initiative including Councilor-at-Large Brian LaPierre, state Rep. Brendan Crighton (D-Lynn) and Brant Duncan, president of the Lynn Teachers Union, last week for a “No on 2” and “Save Union Hospital” rally at Union Hospital to denounce a $100,000 contribution from Partners HealthCare to the “Yes on 2” campaign, or Great Schools Massachusetts, a staunch supporter of charter school expansion.

Officials questioned why Partners is donating to the charter school initiative when they have argued that they can no longer financially support Union Hospital.

Over the summer, the Public Health Council of the state Department of Public Health unanimously approved a $180 million expansion of North Shore Medical Center that will close Union and move the beds to a new Salem campus in 2019. The medical facilities in Lynn and Salem are part of Partners HealthCare.

“What a shame,” said LaPierre of the donation. “You know, I call it educational malpractice because what they’re doing is quite simply, they’re following all of the dark money patterns that we’ve seen throughout this campaign.”

Rich Copp, a spokesperson for Partners HealthCare said the company supports a wide range of efforts that create educational and economic opportunity in all of the communities it serves.

“We have committed hundreds of thousands of dollars to support students in the Lynn Public School system through school-based health services, job training and summer jobs,” Copp said. “These investments in public education help ensure that the students of today have the skills and training needed to care for the patients of tomorrow. Our one-time contribution to the ballot initiative is aimed at creating even more educational opportunity and choice for young people.”

On Sunday, the “No on 2” campaign rallied near Gov. Charlie Baker’s Swampscott home on Monument Avenue. Baker is a supporter of the ballot initiative and did not make an appearance for the rally.

“Gov. Baker is proud to be part of a broad and bipartisan coalition of elected leaders, educators and families that supports expanding access to high quality public education for all children by lifting the cap on public charter schools in Massachusetts,” said William Pitman, his press secretary, in an email.

Natasha Megie-Maddrey, a Lynn resident and 2015 School Committee candidate, said two of her children attend KIPP. Her daughter attends private school, but previously attended the charter school, and although her youngest son goes to Cobbet Elementary School, she plans on sending him to KIPP next year when he reaches fifth grade.

Megie-Maddrey said that the communication is totally different at charter schools. She likes the longer school days and feels that public schools failed one of her sons. She said he also went to Cobbet from grades K to 4 and when he reached KIPP in fifth grade, he was only at a first grade reading level.

She said her son has special needs and has an individualized education program. He is now in the eighth grade and is reading at a seventh grade level, which Megie-Maddrey attributes to his charter school education.

“Lifting the cap will give the 33,000 kids that on the waiting list (statewide) hope so they too can have options and a great education,” she said. “I want other people to have the opportunity I’ve had.”

But Lynn public school educators are not swayed, including Superintendent Dr. Catherine Latham.

Latham said the most common objection involves funding. If a student leaves the traditional public school system to go to charter schools, state funding follows that student. Another issue, she argued, is to gain support for charter schools, advocates have repeatedly attempted to demean the reputation and destroy public confidence in local public schools.

Despite standardized test scores that may be a bit lower than suburban communities, which may qualify Lynn as a district that would receive new charter schools, Latham said, “we educate all, turn away none, have a spectacular teaching and support staff and meet the needs of all of our students.”

“I would guarantee that the experiences and the educational opportunities provided to all of our students, including the over 300 who have returned to us from charter schools in the past five years, far surpass any that may be available in any charter school in the Commonwealth,” Latham said.

Sheila O’Neil, a teacher at Shoemaker Elementary School, opposes the ballot initiative and said that the funding that goes towards charter schools could be better spent on programming. At Lynn English High School, she said, some Advanced Placement (AP) classes have been cut.

“If this passes, I could see schools closing,” she said. “Five years down the line, I could see us with 40 kids in a class.”


Gayla Cawley can be reached at gcawley@itemlive.com. Follow her on Twitter @GaylaCawley

 

Walking their way to fitness in Lynn

Adam Fila, Matthew Phelan and Brock Hogan walk from the entrance to Lynn Woods Reservation to the Lynn Woods Elementary School on Wednesday. Item photo by Owen O’Rourke.

By Leah Dearborn

LYNN — Students looked both ways on Lynn streets for the 20th International Walk to School Day on Wednesday.

Lynn Woods Elementary students in grades K through 5 gathered at the entrance to Lynn Woods Reservation on Great Woods Road for the event, which began through the Partnership for a Walkable America as a campaign to raise awareness for more walkable communities.

“I think it’s awesome that they do this,” said parent Kelly Landano, who sees walking to school together as a good way for students to socialize and make friends.

Principal Ellen Fritz said that in addition to fostering a sense of community, walking to school encourages healthy habits and reduces traffic congestion around the school, which is located on a dead-end street.

For several walkers, the morning stroll to Trevett Avenue marked their first time taking a method of transport other than a vehicle.

Ramon Abreu and daughter Mia, 7, like to exercise but usually drive to school. Ramon Abreu said he wouldn’t mind walking more often in the nice weather, but that winter presents a barrier to getting out on foot safely.    

“Every community faces its challenges, whether urban or rural. It’s just finding what works for that specific school,” said Keith Doty, marketing coordinator with the Safe Routes to School, an agency for walking and biking activities.

Students were instructed to always stop at the end of a street and to only walk on the sidewalk.

Fifth-graders were put in charge of keeping the group organized. As an incentive, the class with the most participating walkers was awarded extra gym time.

Sewell-Anderson Elementary and Sisson Elementary held their own Walk to School Day events, with the latter attended by Superintendent Dr. Catherine Latham. Shannon Murphy represented the mayor’s office on the Lynn Woods walk.

Kathe Landergan, a coordinator with Safe Routes, said that although Walk to School Day is an annual event, some schools hold organized weekly walks as well.

Lynn Woods students walk every Tuesday and Thursday, and Sewell-Anderson students walk on Wednesdays.

Building committee prefers two-school option

Lynn Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Catherine Latham talks at the new Pickering Middle School Meeting at Lynn City Hall on Tuesday. Item Photo by Owen O’Rourke

By Adam Swift

LYNN — The public can get a close-up look on Wednesday, Sept. 14 at the city’s two-school approach to replacing the aging Pickering Middle School.

The 7 p.m. meeting at the Thurgood Marshall Middle School follows up on a unanimous vote by the Pickering Middle School Building Committee Tuesday to support an option to build two new middle schools to replace Pickering. One school would house 652 students near Breed’s Pond Reservoir, while a larger school for 1,008 students would be built on McManus Field on Commercial Street.

This preferred school building option will be submitted to the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) by Sept. 29. But it’s still a long road before the shovels hit the ground at either site.

The submission will go through a review process with the MSBA voting in November on possible approval for project funding.

Superintendent Dr. Catherine Latham said she is grateful for the role the MSBA played in helping finance the Marshall Middle School.

At this time, it is unclear how much of the cost of two new buildings the MSBA could pick up for the city.

While estimated costs for the schools are still in the early stages, at Tuesday’s meeting Gene Raymond of Raymond Design Costs put forward an initial price tag of $83 million for the project.

Also on the table were options for two schools with reduced square footage as well as some programming reductions, as well as a plan where two schools would share some central services, such as a gym and cafeteria, on a single site.

With the extent of a possible MSBA contribution unclear at this time, Latham said the city should move forward with the full programming at two new schools.

“We should lay it all out there and see where the chips fall,” said Latham.

Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy said that none of the plans set forward to address the middle school needs were overly ostentatious.

“We are a land poor city and we are trying to accommodate almost 1,700 middle school students,” she said.


Adam Swift can be reached at aswift@itemlive.com.

Lynn Police Academy graduates summer class

Lynn Police Officer Ryan McDermott, left, Cadet Noah Corbishley, center, and Officer Mark Lee at graduation last week. Item Photo by Bridget Turcotte

By Bridget Turcotte

LYNN — The Lynn Summer Police Academy graduated its tenth class last week.

“Most of their peers spent the last six weeks at the beach, at the pool, sleeping until noon,” said Officer Mark Lee. “Not this group. These are 47 of the most committed students in the city of Lynn.”

The free academy is broken up into classroom time and hands-on activities with lectures by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Lynn Police Department. It’s intended to offer teenagers interested in law enforcement a real-life policing experience.

More than 90 teens, age 13 to 18, applied this year and 60 were chosen to participate, though several dropped out.

The academy is paid for by the city and organized by Student Resource Officers Bob Hogan, Ryan McDermott and Lee.

In the past six weeks, the students, or cadets, learned about Lynn’s domestic violence unit, gang unit, drug task force and identification unit. The crime scene reconstruction unit created a mockup of a scene and challenged the participants to act as detectives and solve the crime.

The cadets went on field trips and learned from agencies that don’t typically offer such services, McDermott said. A trip to the State House, Gillette Stadium, both Lynn courthouses, Middleton House of Corrections, and a ride on a State Police boat were just a few of the group’s adventures.

Graduate Jaydin DeArco has completed the academy two years in a row. He said it’s not a summer program teens should join just to have something to do.

“This academy serves a far greater purpose than that,” DeArco said. “It taught us our three core values that are on the back of our shirts: community, leadership and integrity. Those values must be firmly established and instilled in every cadet graduating this academy.”

At Thursday’s ceremony, awards were given to the program’s top performers. Cadet Jacquelyn Ramirez performed “God Bless America” on the violin after securing the Outstanding Cadet Award. Each teen went home with a certificate for completing the program and certification in CPR and First Aid.

“Six weeks ago we entered this beautiful building as strangers,” Lee said. “Today we leave with a bond that can’t be broken.”

Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy concurred.

“I see the physical difference in all of you,” Kennedy said. “The first day, you were looking around, fidgeting, you didn’t really know what to do with yourselves. The discipline and order that has been instilled in you is noticeable. Clearly you have all paid attention to the lessons of the academy.”

Schools Superintendent Dr. Catherine Latham praised the police department for going above and beyond the call of the job.

“Their job is to protect and serve but they do far more than that,” Latham said. “This is one program they do to make this community better.”

Graduates include: Joenel Aguero, Joel Aguero, Madison Atton, Yassine Bakhouch, Edwin Ramos Cader, Josue Caceres, Nelisha Carrion, Ismail Casso, Livingston Chalas, Raymond Castor, Aratris Chaviano, Liliana Cruz, Noah Corbishley, Sarah Deoliveira, Tyler Coukos, Andrew Doane, Jaydin DeArco, Jasmin Gonzalez, Manyuri DeLeon, Kassandra Gonzalez, Jonathan Ellis, Phat Hoang, Jose Garcia, Jonathan Kim, Darlin Guzman, Luz Linares, Bryan Landaverde, Walter Martinez, Juna Mont Louis, Kyle McCusker, Daniil Malaev, Brian Melara, Regner Nival, Devin Nguyen, Natalie Noesi, Tomi Oladunjoye, Chidi Ojiaku, Ike Oranekwu, Jacquelyn Ramirez, Joselyn Perez, Luis Rivera, Aramis Sanchez, Jefferey Robles, Martin Taveras, Daniel Sanchez, Carl Thompson, Alexandra Vasquez, and Julio Lugo.

Recipient of Most Outstanding Cadet Award Jacquelyn Ramirez performed “God Bless America” on the violin pic.twitter.com/NljbNkdExE


Bridget Turcotte can be reached at bturcotte@itemlive.com. Follow her on Twitter @BridgetTurcotte.

From yoga to welding, a community enriched

From left, Cody Maher and Kaleb Allen being enthusiastic about welding class.

By GAYLA CAWLEY

LYNN — The Lynn Community Enrichment Program is wrapping up this week, after seeing success in its first session.

Tony Dunn is the program coordinator of the night courses at Lynn Vocational and Technical Institute, which were offered three evenings a week, over a winter session that began on Jan. 25. He said the first semester of doing the program was a success, with over 100 people — 18 years of age and older — enrolled in 14 different classes.

Dunn said the spring session will begin on May 2, with 20 courses offered and 17 teachers participating.

“We’re going to do it as long as the need is out there,” Dunn said. “Hopefully it will grow. We want it to grow in the vocational aspect and be a chief resource for people to learn about different careers and find a way into those careers.”

Courses offered in the winter session included oil burner technician, milling machine operation, welding, introduction to the internet, conversational English and Spanish, yoga, cake decorating and cooking.

“People were very happy to get out of their homes and do something,” Dunn said. “They learned something that isn’t available to them normally. It’s an opportunity to learn skills they may develop into jobs in the future.”

Dunn said yoga was the most well-received class offered over the winter.

“Everyone raved about how peaceful and calm it made them feel,” he said.

Dunn said the courses are only six weeks in length and tuition is $60. Courses offered in the spring will include a writing course for people who would like to write their memoirs or a novel,

introduction to lathe, carpentry, a course to teach people how to be a nanny, CPR and first aid, and computer application in Spanish.

Initially, as a committee for the program, Dunn said it was thought that doing a spring session would be rushing the program. However, he said the enthusiastic response has told him to keep going. He said School Superintendent Dr. Catherine Latham has been instrumental in moving the program forward.

With the success, Dunn said the opportunity is there for three sessions a year in the future.

“We’re excited about it and hope people are too,” he said.


Gayla Cawley can be reached at gcawley@itemlive.com. Follow her on Twitter @GaylaCawley